OVER THE SEA FROM SKYE TO SOL RALLY BARBADOS
Barbados front-runners keep busy on UK events
Rallying friends Niall Inglis and John Macleod from the Isle of Skye off the north-west coast of Scotland will finally make a long-discussed trip this year to compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2019, the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. And they have their work cut out, with one fresh build and one bare-shell rebuild to complete before they make the 1,400-mile round trip to the UK’s south coast at the end of April to deliver their rally cars to Dover to start the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Sol RB19 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show on the previous Saturday (May 25) followed Flow King of the Hill at its new location of Stewarts Hill on Sunday, May 26; the event has evolved from small beginnings as the International All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar.
Inglis is busy on the ground-up rebuild of his unusual rear-wheel-drive Kenny’s Garage/Loch Dunvegan Shellfish/Inglis Build/Isle Drive/Inglis Mechanical Services Vauxhall Nova, in which he will compete with co-driver Kevin Macintosh, who is also from Skye; Macleod, meanwhile, is completing the new-build Springfield Motors/Skye Lodges/Macleod Joinery/Bayview Garage/A Robertson Electrical Talbot Sunbeam, in which his co-driver will be Nikki Addison from Inverness, fresh from her success as 2018 Ladies Champion in the 50th Anniversary year of the Scottish Rally Championship. The Nova is set to run in SuperModified 1, the Sunbeam in Clubman 1.
Looking ahead to the trip, Inglis said: “We have planned this for ages but this is the first year that we have been able to go. If I can squeeze in an event before we go, it would be good but I don’t think I’m going to have time. I stripped the car down to the bare shell and with work commitments and so on, I fell behind, so it’s all go just now.”
Respectively a maintenance engineer and joiner by trade, Inglis and Macleod have something else to keep them busy, as Chairman and Vice-chairman of Skye & Lochalsh Rally Club. Inglis has been competing since 2007, having achieved a number of class wins, also finished highest-placed GM car on the Snowman Rally, a legendary Scottish event which often lives up to its name; Macleod started rallying in 2010, in a Toyota Corolla, with a class win on the 2014 Snowman to his credit, along with finishing the iconic Tour of Mull twice in his previous Ford Focus. Co-driver Addison, who is also a member of Skye & Lochalsh RC, won her Scottish title last year as a driver, finishing second in class in her Peugeot 106 with co-driver Rachel Matheson, but is also a regular co-driver in cars as varied as a Vauxhall Nova and a Mini Countryman JCW WRC.
While Barbados and Skye are both islands, there the similarities end. Skye, which is joined to the mainland by the Skye Bridge, is 48 miles long and 25 miles across at its widest point; with a total area of around 640 square miles, it is a little under four times the size of Barbados, but with a population of just over 10,000.
Barbados front-runners keep busy on UK events
With hardly a break in the British rally season, Sol Rally Barbados connections including regular front-runners Kevin Procter and Rob Swann, have been enjoying valuable seat time in recent weeks. Procter, who equalled his best finish of fourth in Sol RB18, added to his impressive record on the Neil Howard Stages in November and the Christmas Stages a month later, both single-venue events at race circuits in the North of England.
With co-driver Derek Fawcett, he clocked up his third straight win in the NH Stages in his Ford Fiesta, adding to two earlier victories in his Subaru Impreza WRC S7; sponsor of the Oulton Park event, Graham Coffey, who Procter persuaded to enter Sol RB two years ago, finished seventh in his Fiesta WRC, co-driven by the Chairman of Motorsport UK (formerly the Motor Sports Association) David Richards, co-driver to Ari Vatanen in his 1981 World Championship-winning campaign. Formerly run on the last Saturday of December, the Croft Christmas event moved forward a fortnight, Procter and Dave Bellerby winning for a sixth time since 2008, the first since he bought the Fiesta.
Rob Swann, whose second-place in Sol RB18 was his third since 2014, rallied a Ford Escort MkII for the first time on the Mini Tempest Rally in the south of England on December 29; the car was on loan from Steve Finch, another Barbados regular, and the co-driver Sophie Louise Buckland, who made her island debut in Sol RB18. After finishing third on SS1, things went downhill, reports Swann: “The Escort was great fun, but the clutch failed on the start-line of second stage, so we limped through back to service. We missed two stages fixing it, then got back out to win one stage and have a lot of fun! Sophie did a good job on the maps and the event was really well run, with great stages - definitely one for next year.” The winner was Julian Reynolds in a Fiesta R2T, 18secs ahead of Pete and Aron Rayner (MkII Escort), both of whom have competed in Sol RB, while there was a class win for regular Sol RB co-driver Steve McNulty, sixth overall sitting with Darrell Taylor (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X).
Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB19 marks the 12th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fourth by communications provider Flow.